Monday, October 10, 2016

Fall Color High Sierras, Oct 2016

Reminder, click on any picture to see a larger view. 

Fall color in the high Sierra is a must see. We decided to make the trip up and over highway 88, highway 89 and down highway 395 looking for color we go. We left just before lunch, on the way we stopped at the Lockeford Meat and Sausage Co. This some of the best sausage you can buy, we got two we had not tried to take on our trip. Next we stopped for lunch at Clements Ridge on the corner of Hwy 12 and Hwy 88. I highly recommend the tri-tip sandwich, one of the best I have had. Bakery items looked great but not on the diet. Our plan was to drive up Hwy 88 and check out Hope Valley always a great spot for fall color.  This year did not disappoint.

We had planned to camp at the Hope Valley Campground. The NFS had already closed the campground for the winter. WTH are they thinking with all the people coming up to look at the color? The PG&E camp at Blue Lake was open but it just did not fit for where we wanted to camp. Decided to head for Markleeville as I knew of a smaller campground, found it was closed.  Saw a sign that Monitor Pass was closed for an accident so we headed for Grover Hot Springs State Park and found a campsite for the night.  Quiet with not many other campers, enjoyed a nice campfire and read our books until too dark to read. 

Our camp for the night at Grover Hot Springs.

We were up early after a great nights sleep in the camper. Cold morning but not as cold as I thought it would be. After we had breakfast we lowered the top and headed back to Markleeville. Found the sign was still showing Monitor Pass closed. Asked why and we were told a tanker driver took Monitor to save fees going into Nevada. He crashed and spilled his load, haz-mat clean up and had been closed for a few days.  Not much to do except head to Hwy 395 through Minden NV.  I had not been that way in years, area has grown. We passed back into California at Topaz Lake, somewhere I had never been. I always turn up Monitor Pass when on my motorcycle. Heading south we turned off Hwy 395 to go back to Virginia Lakes. You climb fast as you head up the mountain, the lake is over 9,700 feet in elevation. The colors made this trip up the mountain well worth the drive.

Getting near lunch time we decided to make the stop at Whoa Nellie Deli. This is one of the best gas station restaurants you will find anywhere.  Just before we got to Lee Vining there was a flagman stopping traffic. The fire last year burned the area by Mono Lake. The hill was being covered with chainlink fencing to keep the rocks from falling when the winter rain falls. 

Two really talented crane operators putting up the chainlink.

I stop at Whoa Nellie Deli every year on my birthday motorcycle ride, Normal lunch is their Caesar Salad with a perfect skirt steak on top. It is huge so I decided on pork tacos, Veronica had the fish tacos. Both were good, the pork may be some of the best carnitas I have every had.

 Everything is good, one item that they do not have every time is the Cream of Mushroom Sherry Soup. That is what we were hoping to have. If you stop and they have it give it a try.

Heading south after lunch we turned on the June Lake loop. This is another area that has great fall color.

From June lake we headed south to Convict Lake. As I am typing I realized we passed by Lundy Lake guess that will be on next years trip. Lots of history at Convict Lake and may be our favorite lake for the view.

Heading down 395 our next turn is to McGee Creek. Another recommendation from California Fall Colors. Short climb from 395 and you are in a picture perfect valley of aspens with great color. The parking lot at the end of the road was 1/2 full of cars. This is a trailhead going to the John Muir Trail. Hope everyone hiking and camping were aware of the weather coming in.

Our plan for the day was to drive down to Bishop Creek and find a camp for the night. We changed our mind when we passed McGee Creak Campground. Looked interesting and we drove in on the way down. Found a great site and spent the afternoon walking the creek and enjoying our books. For those who prefer an campground McGee Creek is a fine NFS campground with flush potties.

View from the road above.

Our camp for the night.

Another fine night in our Four Wheel Camper. This was a cold night, I have the thermostat set for 40 degrees when we sleep. At 6:30am it goes up to 70 degrees so we get up to a warm camper. This morning the heat came on just before 6:00am as the camper was 39 degrees inside.

Today we drive to Bishop and turn up Hwy 168. We have camped at Bitterbrush Campground just out of Bishop on our way to the FWC rally.  Today we are headed farther up the road to South Lake and Sabrina Lake.

Both roads to South Lake and to Sabrina Lake had great color. We did check out some of the campgrounds on the way for future travel. Our plan for the day was to head back and over Tioga Pass staying at Porcupine Campground in Yosemite. We were sure the valley campgrounds would be reserved.  Timing was just right so Veronica suggested we have lunch again at Whoa Nellie Deli. We had hoped for Cream of Mushroom Sherry Soup but it was not to be.  We split the the Caesar Salad with shirt steak.

After lunch we headed up Tioga Pass and stopped at Olmsted Point for the view.

Never underestimate the draw of Yosemite NP. Wednesday night in October and Porcupine Campground is FULL.  No camping in Yosemite for us tonight. Nice thing we are only a couple of hours from home.